By Kaitlyn Oliveros, Sept. 6, 2022
Nicki Minaj gave the best performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28 and gave an emotional speech when accepting the Video Vanguard Award.
Minaj first made her VMA debut back in 2010 where she performed alongside will.i.am, singing their song “Check It Out.” She was also nominated for “Best New Artist” at the time. This year, the “Chun-Li” singer not only performed, but hosted the show alongside fellow rappers LL Cool J and Jack Harlow.
When taking the stage, Minaj is seen inside of what looks like a Barbie doll box. To the left of her hangs a sign with her name on it in Barbie font. She stands in a blue silhouette lighting, rapping the first few words to her song “All Things Go.” The lights begin to flicker as the camera gets closer to her. The audience then gets a better look at her all-pink outfit, her signature color. Minaj wore a pink bedazzled long-sleeved bustier paired with a pink skirt. Her body began to shift as if she was transforming, and that’s exactly what she was doing.
Minaj’s alter ego Roman Zolanski takes over as she sings “Roman’s Revenge.” Seeing this happen gave me chills and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did. Minaj transitions into Kanye West’s song “Monster.” Not only does she sing her iconic verse, but she also reenacted her iconic scene from the music video as she has a woman tied up onto a chair wearing a white outfit similar to the one Minaj wore in the video.
The camera then pans out as she sings “Beez in the Trap.” Viewers from home get to see the pink Barbie dream house stage set up. Dancers then join the stage with Minaj as she transitions to “Chun-Li.” Her dancers wore black outfits while Minaj stayed in the same one. I thought this was a great color scheme, especially since it made her stand out even more.
Minaj then transitions into another one of her hit songs “Moment 4 Life.” The lighting changes from red to pink and new dancers dressed in pink take the stage. This is where I began to get emotional. This is one of my favorite songs by the queen of rap and seeing her perform it on one of the biggest nights of her career was amazing. She pauses for a second and the beat to “Super Bass” starts playing. Minaj begins walking to what looks like another stage. The audience is seen singing and dancing along with her before she disappears and her dancers dance to the chorus of “Anaconda.”
She wraps up this iconic performance with her new song “Super Freaky Girl.” Minaj is on a new stage that resembles a nightclub with male dancers surrounding her. At first, she’s seen dancing on a couch to the beginning of the song before picking up her bedazzled microphone and singing the rest of the song. As someone who’s seen almost every Nicki Minaj award performance, I can easily say that this is her best one.
As soon as she sang the last few words and the music stopped, the crowd went wild. They even gave her a standing ovation.
It doesn’t end here though. Five Nicki Minaj fans, or “Barbz” as she calls them, take the stage and present the Video Vanguard Award to her. This is the biggest award an artist can receive at the VMAs. It’s only given to artists who have not only made a huge impact on music and popular culture but have also made outstanding contributions to it. Minaj then reads her emotional speech from her phone where she thanks Drake, Lil Wayne, Rihanna and many more artists for inspiring her or giving her amazing opportunities at the start of her career.
She starts tearing up at her next words as she honors both the late Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
“I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through,” said Minaj. “I wish people took mental health seriously even for the people who you think have the perfect lives.”
She ends her speech by thanking the Barbz, calling them her babies and expressing her love for her newborn baby Papa Bear. At this point, I’m shedding a few tears as the audience watches her walk off stage. This was one of the best performances the VMAs has had in years. The queen of rap is officially Video Vanguard royalty.
Feature image by Lauren Wong.
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